Sri Lanka have named a strong 16-member squad for the upcoming three-match ODI series against Afghanistan. After a disappointing outing in the ODI World Cup, the Kusal Mendis-led side bounced back in the series against Zimbabwe and won the one-off Test against Afghanistan by 10 wickets. They would aim to repeat the same in the white-ball series, which is slated to begin on February 9 in Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.
Interestingly, the team management has benched former skipper Dasun Shanaka from the ODI squad. The all-rounder was Sri Lanka’s poster boy during their brilliant win in the Asia Cup 2022 but his form dipped in recent times, which forced the selection committee to consider alternate options.
When it comes to in-form players, skipper Mendis and Janith Liyanage were remarkable with the bat in the series against Zimbabwe in January. The bowlers too were sensational, as the returning Wanindu Hasaranaga ended up being the leading wicket-taker in Sri Lanka’s 2-0 series win. With that, they would be confident of their chances but a white-ball series against Afghanistan can always prove to be tricky.
The visitors stunned the cricketing world with their impactful performances in the ODI World Cup. At one stage, they were close to qualifying for the semi-finals but unfortunately, lost their way in the middle. Following this, they suffered a 0-3 defeat in the T20I series against India, which should fuel them for making an emphatic return. The series against Sri Lanka gives the team a perfect platform, even with Rashid Khan missing due to a mirror back injury.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka will aim to gain some momentum from the Afghanistan series ahead of the T20 World Cup, which is slated to begin on June 1. They would also keep an eye on the Champions Trophy 2025 and would aim to build a strong team for the mega tournament, which is scheduled to take place in Pakistan – a place that the Sri Lankan players are familiar with.
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Sri Lanka squad for Afghanistan series – Kusal Mendis (c), Charith Asalanka, Pathum Nissanka, Avishka Fernando, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Janith Liyanage, Wanindu Hasaranga, Maheesh Theekshana, Dushmantha Chameera, Dilshan Madushanka, Pramod Madushan, Sahan Arachchige, Akila Dananjaya, Dunith Wellalage, Chamika Karunaratne, Shevon Daniel